Asking how long it takes to build muscle is kind of life asking how long it takes to get from New York to California. Are we talking about driving across the country or hopping on a commercial airliner? If we’re driving, are we taking a direct or scenic route? What are our priorities and goals along the way?
While there is no one answer to this question, there are some guidelines we can follow and scenarios we can examine to provide surprisingly accurate estimates. Much of what determines the results is up to the individual. In other words, dedication will get you there faster: serious athletes should check out this muscle building class for gaining weight and increasing energy.
The Basics: Part 1
The very first thing to address is gender: as both men and women will have access to this post, it is important to note that men will build muscle significantly faster than women. Men simply have larger testosterone reserves and a greater ability to produce growth hormone.
Different, Not Better: This might make it sound discouraging for women, but that is definitely not the case. Women’s bodies respond just as quickly to exercise and workouts, they just don’t respond with the same intensity as men. For these reasons, women can expect to build muscle about 2-3 times slower than their male counterparts (assuming they are using the same training regimen).
The Basics: Part 2
Your muscle mass will only increase under certain conditions. This is crucial to understand because even though men build muscle faster, if they aren’t training properly they won’t gain any muscle mass at all. Pick up some free workout advice with this blog post on weight training and lifting techniques for beginners.
The first essential rule in building muscle is consistency. The more consistent you are, and the longer you are consistent, the faster you will build muscle. The second rule is to push your muscles to the limit. If you do not fatigue your muscles, they will not grow. It’s as simple as that. You actually have to damage your muscles so that they can accumulate mass by repairing themselves.
If you overload your muscles properly and give them time to recover, you will undoubtedly see changes in weight, size and strength.
The First Month
If you want to gain serious muscle mass, you need to be devoted for at least six months to a year. Just accept that fact now and it will make what I’m about to tell you easier to handle.
Patience: Most people want to see results immediately. You have probably seen advertisements online claiming to help you grow a ridiculous amount of weight (5, 10, 20 lbs) in a single month. This is virtually impossible. In fact, the first month of weight lifting is likely to yield a gain in muscle mass of almost zero. It’s not a matter of how hard you workout or how much protein you eat. Your muscles have to go through an initial stage in which they begin to adjust themselves to the process of breaking down and building up.
That said, you will see other reassuring changes in your body. Your muscles will begin to tone and blood flow will increase, making them look, at least, larger and more defined. Sign up for the long haul with this muscle-up fitness course that covers everything from setting goals to eating right.
The Fast Track
If you want to get on the fast track to building muscle, it’s about frequency and intensity. Split routine training, in which you work out only a few sections of your body at once, allows you to work out more days of the week while providing ample recovery time for the muscles you aren’t working out.
Split Routine: For example, many people like to workout their lower body, back and biceps two days a week (Monday and Thursday) and their chest, triceps and shoulders two days a week (Tuesday and Friday). This way they still get three full days of rest but can workout back-to-back days. This kind of training will build muscle the fastest; at least, as opposed to random weight lifting.
It’s also good to add diversity to routine every now and then; train a different way with this kickboxing extreme workout class.
Diet plays a huge role in weight gain. You need to increase your caloric intake if you want to gain even a single gram of muscle mass. A general rule of thumb is to add 500 calories to your daily intake, preferably in the form of foods high in protein (chicken, eggs, whole grains, etc.).
You should also concentrate on eating healthy foods as well; fruits and vegetables and, ideally, a daily vitamin or nutrient. Get help eating healthy with this six step course on permanently eating beyond the diet hype.
Recovery is as important as anything else; you need to give your body the time and resources to actually build new muscle. This means getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep and keeping stress and anxiety to a minimum, both of which inhibit the growth of muscle. So just relax, sleep, and let your body do the rest.
How Long Does It Take To Build Muscle?
After your first month or so of adjusting to your workout routine, and under the assumption that you’re eating well and putting yourself through rigorous workouts, the average male can expect to gain 1-2 lb. a month.
Ok, I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but I told you at the beginning that true muscle building requires a commitment of six months to a year. If you stick with weight lifting for six or seven months, you can add six to twelve pounds of new, lean muscle to your body. After a year, that number jumps to twelve to twenty-four pounds. Even twelve pounds of muscle will result in an enormous gain in strength, probably far greater than you can imagine. This kind of weight gain in one year can take a beginner’s bench press of 135 lb. deep into the 200 lb. range.
Beyond The First Year
If you’re still working out after your first year, you should be aware of the fact that muscle building decreases as you get bigger. Your body is only designed to support so much muscle mass, so it slows down. You can generally gain half as much muscle with each passing year. So year one you might gain 20 lb., year two 10 lb., year three 5 lb., and so on.
You will, of course, continue to get stronger if you keep pushing yourself. You might even get lucky; gifted athletes often grow muscle at an alarmingly fast rate (2-3 lb. a month). As I’m about to tell you, the hard part is staying dedicated. Even if you can’t make it to the gym, this “no equipment, no excuses” workout course will help keep you motivated.
There are several realities to be aware of. You might think you’re going to stick with your workout routine, but the odds are so far against you it’s actually sad thinking about how many people quit before they gain a single pound of muscle.
If you’re an average person, you won’t last six months. I’m not trying to dissuade you, in fact you should use this information as motivation, but it’s just the way it is. Set realistic goals. Know what to expect. Workout to get healthy and strong, not to have disproportionately large biceps. Joining a gym will go a long way in encouraging you to workout, too.
I also recommend educating yourself. You can become a fitness expert with this “no-bull” fitness course designed to help you build muscle through knowledge.